plantPhoto: lucy and her dent via FlickrAbout a quarter of the U.S. population lives in apartments or condos, according to the 2000 census [PDF], and most Americans will live in one or the other at some point in their lives. But apartment dwellers don’t have to miss out on the joys of growing their own food.

 

You don’t need a yard to garden. All you need are some pots.

Container gardening” makes it possible for just about anyone to grow their own tasty, fresh, organic, local food — and save on grocery bills. If you plant several crops that are harvested at different times all in one pot, you can stretch a little space even further.

Container gardening has its quirks and some key differences from the traditional seeds-in-the-ground gardening style, but you just need savvy guidance and an open, experimental attitude.

A few tips to get you started:

• stick to dwarf, bush, or compact varieties of veggies, fruits, and herbs

• make sure your gardening spot receives four to eight hours of direct sunlight a day, depending on what you’re growing

• pick the right size of container for your particular plants

• water frequently, as containers dry out more quickly than plants in the ground

Come on, ditch that finicky ficus and opt for tomatoes, spinach, or basil. You may surprise yourself. I found that I take much better care of my container garden than I do that wilting houseplant on my desk, and I have succulent, delicious zucchini to show for it.